100 Days of Blogging, parenthood, personal

Our Favorite Daddy

This man. Like lots of girls, I entered adulthood projecting all kinds of life experience onto God, viewing him through the lens of my earthly father. I was blessed with a hardworking dad, but he’s human and has his shortcomings like we all do, and I definitely attributed some of his qualities to my Heavenly Father. When this guy became a dad, it forced me to question my dad perspective and to really examine the qualities I had “seen” in God. A few weeks ago we visited Elevation Ballantyne, the “mothership” and broadcast location for our church in Raleigh, and they played this beautiful song from Hillsong church, ‘I am who you say I am“. By the first chorus I was totally undone, realizing the flawed way I had been viewing my Father’s love for me. Who the son sets free oh is free indeed, I’m a child of God, yes I am! In my father’s house, there’s a place for me. I’m a child of God, yes I am! I am chosen, not forsaken, I am who you say I am. You are for me, not against me, I am who you say I am!”

How God views me is not contingent upon my behavior, obedience, good deeds that I do, or nice things I say… his love is unconditional and simply is because of who I am: his child.

So on this Father’s Day, thank you to my wonderful husband, who in spite of his shortcomings loves our children, and me, unconditionally just because of who we are are. You make me a better mom, a better person, a better everything. Thank you for pointing me to truths about myself and our life when it’s tempting for me to believe the lies. You are my greatest gift. You’re always a hand squeeze away, willing to load the dishwasher, change the diaper, trim the nails, dress my wounds (more than I can count) and hug it out. You’re a dream come true.

Thank you for making me a mom. I like to say that the kids did, but really, it was you. Happy Father’s Day!

100 Days of Blogging, parenthood, personal

Monday Adventures (Alternate Title: Why didn’t I get coffee this morning?)

Today I looked in the mirror (it wasn’t a mirror, it was selfie camera on my iPhone) and I barely recognized myself. The one year old was screaming “AAAA DA” (all done) in her crib, my three year old was napping in sheets that totally had pee on them from the night before and I just shoved a couple of Fauxreos into my mouth and washed them down with blue Gatorade.

Eating paleo? Nope.

Clean house? Nope.

Work done for the day? Nope. 

Laundry caught up? Nope. 

The baby stopped screaming so I got suspicious. I should have suspected asleep, but instead I suspected suffocation, climbing out of the crib or some other general naughtiness. I quietly crept into her room to watch her little cherub self sleep and as soon as the door opened she shot right up and I hit the floor. I mean, I literally dropped my body to the floor and tried to hide from my one year old. She peered over the edge of her crib and said “Haaaaaaiiiii. Ma. Ah da.” And then started jumping up and down whining and demanding that I hold her.

So for those of you at home judging me because we haven’t sleep trained, the score is now Emmeline 386, Mama 0. In my defense, I did let her cry it out one day for nap while I showered and I came to her room to find vomit all over the crib, wall and floor. It’s possible she had a “stomach bug” but I think I know the truth. She cried so hard she puked. Because that’s my girl!

Exciting times here lately.  I thought the husband was staying home to wrangle kids today while I worked. He thought he was going to work to… work. So I went in to this week at a mental disadvantage. But seriously, these kids push me to my boundaries of sanity, cleanliness and joy on a daily basis and I LOVE EVERY SECOND OF IT. There are definitely seconds that I wish would pass quicker than others, but these are definitely the days of my dreams. Cheerios and all.

parenthood, personal

YOZO: Second Time Mom Life is My Best Life

Second time mom life is my best life. It’s also the craziest life I’ve ever had, but I vividly remember the weight of the Anxiety Elephant that lived on my chest during the first year with Lincoln. I was always so paranoid about everything. Everything. Diapers. Wipes. Diaper rash. Germs. Paci. Sleep crutches. SIDS. Solids. Purees. Wake times. Just, all the freaking “wake times” and “dream feeds”.  Second kid though? The Elephant is ABSENT!

Y’all let’s do Target diapers!
Sure, she can sleep in bed with us!
Formula at night? PLEASE.
Oh you’re six months, here’s a banana!
Here, I can’t find any toys, play with this plastic Tupperware.
Oh, you don’t want to nap? That’s fine, we have stuff to do anyway.
Oh you dropped your paci on the floor at Target? Here ya go. *does nothing*
Oh you actually don’t like the paci? No problem. *breastfeeds everywhere anywhere all the time*
Bedtime? What bedtime? Let’s keep her awake because she’s so cute and I barely saw her today!

Maybe I’m just perpetuating the Second Kid Has No Boundaries thing (hi, I’m a second kid and I can tell you.. I STILL live for loopholes), but honestly I am enjoying this baby addition to our life 27492919182617x more than I enjoyed Lincoln. And I really enjoyed him A LOT, even within the parameters of baby schedules and such.

Also, ask me how fast Lincoln grew up. It was a blink. I blinked and he was weird colored, screaming at me fresh out of the womb and then I blinked again and he was three years old and counting the cars on the car transporter truck from the backseat window. Correctly. Counting, like with numbers. Who the eff taught him numbers?!?

So, after a few months of trying to get her to nap on a schedule and to eat on a schedule and play on a schedule, and show me sleepy cues after the appropriate wake time and whomp whomp whomp, I asked myself: What if I allowed myself to just enjoy her on her terms? Instead of stressing the heck out all the time because she doesn’t sleep or eat at the right times. And yes, there were “right” times she could sleep or eat. For example, when Lincoln was napping or having lunch or at preschool. ANY of those times would be great for a nap, Emmeline. Instead she chose choice letter D: None of the above.

We’ll sleep train eventually, she’ll eat meals with us eventually, and sleep through the nigh eventually. After all, you’re only zero once. YOZO.

*These photos are from the day she was feeling 100% better after a nasty run in with Roseola. Probably from the lack of Paci Washing and Tupperware Teethers. Should also mention that I really don’t have time for Mom Guilt the second time around. Futher evidence of The Best Life.

parenthood, pregnancy

Forty One and Two

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It was forty one weeks and two days ago that I was forty one weeks and two days pregnant with the sweetest, spunkiest, loudest little red headed girl that I’ve always known. Lately I like to watch her play with her brother, and I just imagine me as a little girl, a teenager, a college girl, a newlywed… I’d daydream and imagine what my life would be like, and what my kids would be like. I look at Lincoln and Emmeline and just imagine God smiling at those thoughts of the Younger Mes, knowing that they would be the most fun, perfect for me and adorable in every possible way. It was always them. It was especially always Emmeline. She has been tucked in my heart for as long as I can remember. Every roll, every reddish hair and eyelash and invisible eyebrow. She is the the red cherry on top.

At nine months old she is fearless and demanding. She loves to make us smile and acts just so goofy at times. She dances, loves music and truly embodies her middle name, Joy. Just making eye contact with her across the room is enough to make her whole body wiggle, a chuckle erupt and her little nose scrunch. She tries to walk and doesn’t seem to remember that she can’t, even after falling face first on the hard floor several times a day. She will yell and swat at Lincoln if he takes her toy or gets in the way, and if he stays too close for too long she’ll pull up on him to standing. This is especially entertaining because he knows that if he moves she will fall and then cry and he doesn’t want to get in trouble for making her cry, so he just stands there and yells for help…

I am in a place where I know, like I know, I am slacking in some areas. Some important, some not-so, but I am not slacking in the loving my babies department. I am snuggling, hugging, singing, dancing, walking, playing trucks, tickling, kissing 110%. Like, I am all in. I was made for this. I’m exhausted out of my mind and pushed to new physical, mental and emotional limits on the regular, but man. This is the good stuff.

Before I had kids, I think I thought the biggest trial of new motherhood was losing the baby weight. Like, really. I think I thought you were pregnant, had the baby, life was normal (just with a baby now) and you worked as hard as you could to lose the baby weight as fast as possible. I heard someone say that it was important to give yourself grace because it took nine (10. It took TEN) months to grow that baby, so it may take nine (DIEZ) months to go back to your pre-baby size.

So, I don’t know about all that baby weight nonsense because once these jokers were out, the LAST thing on my mind has been what size pants I wear. Partially because I only wear leggings now, but also because there are SO many other things that I need to spend time and energy on. Like these kids want to eat… always. Laundry is spilling out from all the corners of my home. I also like, work and stuff. Both times I’ve also dealt with some pretty intense health stuff myself, so how much I weigh? Do not care. Do not know. Do not want to know. Also, if a health professional asks me how much I weigh, I will tell them how much I weighed when I started college.

Real life, though. Nothing is the same after having a baby. After Lincoln I remember being so upset with Marshall for just going back to work like it was no big deal. For me I felt like NOTHING was the same. My body, my skin, my brain, my days, my nights, my time– what I could eat, drink, etc. Literally this child had changed every single thing about my life in one foul swoop. BAM. Life completely altered.

And then, a few months passed and then a few more months passed and then  suddenly I looked up and realized that we had done it. We had made it through, and while nothing was the same as before, it was the same as the day before and the pattern continued until it felt normal. It happened around this time. Lincoln was around eight or nine months old and I just remember feeling a little less insane and less like being in survival mode all the time. It did not occur to me then that it had taken almost the same amount of time of gestation for me to get used to him on the outside, but it totally was around the forty week mark.

The number forty is used somewhat frequently in scripture so I did a little digging just to see what the deal was with God and that number. He’s all about some numerical significance. Forty symbolizes a period of testing or trial. And if the forty weeks of pregnancy and the forty weeks that follow does not fit that perfectly, I do not know what does. Tests and trials ABOUNDING. The thing that is cool about the forty thing, is usually after the period of time of the trial, something really cool happens after. Noah in the Ark forty days and nights– and bam! Waters recede and there’s a fresh start to humanity. And also rainbows. Moses hung out on Mount Sinai for forty days and nights and received laws from God– a pretty big deal to Judaism and subsequently, Christianity. Jesus fasted for forty days in the wilderness and by the end of it, foreshadowed his ultimate victory over Satan by resisting him completely when he was really hungry during that time.

I don’t  know. I’m all  about the numerical significance, too. Just doesn’t seem like a coincidence to me that human gestation is forty weeks. That is a time of trials and tests for sure, and what follow is truly incredible.

Speaking of numerical significance,  this is probably my most favorite thing. So I was overdue with Emmeline. 10 days. I was due April 30 and she came May 9th and that last  stretch was a crazy emotional roller coaster. So a few weeks after she was born I was driving around and noticed the oil change sticker on the inside of my car had 5/9/17 on it and I was super confused as to why we got an oil change on Emmeline’s birth day (It is also worth noting that it is not very often that I am the one to take a car in for an oil change, because I don’t know what the dates on the stickers mean). In my sleep deprived newborn stupor, I called Marshall and he explained it to me and I laughed OUT LOUD because for weeks “When is the baby coming?!” was basically the only thing we ate, slept or breathed. We obsessed over every contraction, every potential sign of labor, everything. Literally in my car, in my eyeline that I saw every single day was her birthday. It was right under my nose the whole time. So hilarious. Nothing’s a coincidence! We are handpicked. Oil change stickers and all.

parenthood, personal, pregnancy

March Goal Type Things

HEY MARCH YOU’RE LIKE HALF OVER.
Y’all life is crazy busy. And this fun blog is the first thing to go when life gets busy. Between work, growing a human, wrangling the two year old human, shooting A LOT at church and for friends this month, getting a cold and sleeping a little extra… I’m behind. But I’m catching up today. So BLOGSPLOSION. Here are my goals for the (rest of) the month! I actually tweaked these since I originally wrote them the first week of the month because some of the stuff there’s NO WAY I’ll actually do it. So let’s be realistic, shall we? Set ourselves up for some success 😉 
  • continue bullet journaling 
    • I love this thing. It’s the perfect planner for me and my brain. 
  • share some of our “minimalism” changes here on the blog
    • We are just getting started on our minimizing journey, it’s been a process getting us to this perspective, and we certainly aren’t “all in” or “all there” but the changes we’ve made so far have improved our quality of life TREMENDOUSLY (mine especially). Excited to share some of what we’ve learned so far. 
  • eat #moreveggiesinmarch 
    • Last year we did this with my pal Lauren and it was SO hard but so good and my goal last time was crazy. This time, I’d rather set a small goal and shred it everyday– I’m at that point in my life/pregnancy where I just want to feel good about myself and my choices. I’d rather eat 9 servings on a good day and 3 on a bad day and still end up meeting my goal. No shame. 
      • 3 servings a day, roughly one a meal. 
  • make “HOME STRETCH” to do lists 
    • There are literally hundreds of  little things I need to do to prepare for this baby to come for work (eep). Make a massive work prep list and home prep list for logistics so I don’t forget anything! 
  • complete Foto February Challenge 
    • and blog it, and finalize my changes for next year!
  • hit my “homestretch goals” every day
    • 4k steps a day
    • 2 liters of water a day
    • greens everyday 
    • “chill time” 30 minutes every day 
    • write scripture daily (memorizing Philippians 2:1-16 for my egroup! So far I’ve got 2:1-4 down, working on 5-7 today!) 
handpicked, parenthood, personal, pregnancy

Jessica + Kevin | maternity

In preparation for a sweet little newborn session this weekend, I realized I haven’t shared these beauties here just yet. This girl is one of the sweetest in the world. She was the Spanish and Technology teacher at the elementary school where I worked for two years before/while Lincoln was born before I had the honor of having that sweet job. I love looking at the giant web of how all that came to be.
I was teaching high school and I was burning out– fast. I was teaching three levels, coaching cheerleading (and driving an activity bus, y’all…), in charge of a couple clubs, doing course development online nights and weekends… I was ready to get outta there. I needed to sleep.  I wanted a change of pace in lower grades and had interviewed a few places, but none close enough to our house for me, so I premeditatedly called in sick to work one day to drive around and pass out résumés. I stopped by Meredith College to see one of my professors and she happened to mention in passing that an almost graduate had been offered a Spanish K-2 position but didn’t want it— WHAT?! –and it was at the school where my husband worked– WHAT?!? I promptly left that conversation, called my husband, who called the HR lady, who got my résumé moments later, and then I had an interview by Friday and was offered the job on the following Monday. Holy whirlwind.
Meanwhile, a recent Campbell grad was interviewing for HER dream job (my job, that I had resigned from without having another one lined up…). She is now teaching all the Spanish, coaching cheerleading and engaged to the basketball coach. Adorable and so happy.
Meanwhile, the Meredith grad that didn’t want the K-2 job  had also interviewed for a high school position that she wanted elsewhere and was waiting to hear back from there before she said “no” to the K-2 position. Spoiler alert: she got the high school job, worked it for several years and now lives  in Colombia happily ever after.
Meanwhile, Jessica had been trying to leave the Spanish K-2 position to go to a regular classroom position but the administrator wouldn’t let her until they found a replacement (me, excitedly since the Meredith Grad had recently turned it down).
What a crazy web of Spanish teachers and classroom dreams, huh? I had the joy of getting to know each of these girls individually during that season, and it was the coolest to see how it all unfolded and how we all ended up where we wanted and needed to be in that season. Ultimately, K-2 was a good job for me at that time, but really my heart of hearts is in momming my kids and the high school crowd. My sarcasm and wit was wasted on the K-2 demographic, although teaching them how to use iPads was and will continue to be a top five in my list of favorite life experiences. Those kids were amazing.
All that to say, I just love stories like this where it’s so clear. So, so, so clear that God’s hand is in this with us. He’s orchestrating and moving and introducing us to people that may change our lives forever, and in the midst of all that he really does have our interests, hopes and desires close to his heart, just like they are close to our own. It was a good lesson for me to never ignore the nudge of the Holy Spirit, and to go out on a limb because you never know what crazy awesome plans require that first step– in my own life and potentially in someone else’s.
Jessica, it is an honor to know you and to have been your successor in the K-2 Spanish/Technology classroom! Your students, Kevin, and sweet Lyla Kate are so blessed to have you as their Mrs. Gray, wife and mama. So excited to photograph little LK this weekend!
These pictures are some of my all time favorites. It was a wintery, wintery cold gray day but we braved the birdwatchers at Yates Mill and I could not love these memories more. What a sweet time, preparing for the first baby! So thankful to be a part of their story.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

documentary, everyday photos, family, handpicked, just because, parenthood, personal, photography

Just Because | Steph + Ben

So, being a mom is tough.  Figuring out what your place in the world is is tough. Finding balance in the tension of being a mother and having a career is tough.

Lincoln was a newborn when I resigned from my teaching job for the coming school year. I was supposed to be excited to have the opportunity to work from home and be with my baby all the time, but it was such an unfamiliar thing I was really not as thrilled as I thought I would be when I signed my resignation letter. There was so much unknown and comments made by co-workers and friends (“oh it must be so nice to be able to stay at home….”) that made me think I was surrendering a hardworking life for a glorified maternity leave– except permanent. 

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I remember tearfully telling Marshall… ”—but I don’t want to be just a mom! I thought there was more for me!”  I felt like I needed to start a business, write a book, do something big. Little did I realize at the time, that raising that tiny person into a  full grown human being is one of the biggest things I’ll ever do. It’s not glamorous. It doesn’t gain a lot of followers. There’s a lot of poop, boogers, squashed bananas in places there shouldn’t be squashed bananas, and lately, singing the songs to Frozen more times than I’ve ever wanted to (that’s my own fault– who showed him Frozen? Me. I did.). It’s taken time, almost two years, and I can’t say I don’t wonder what it would be like to still be working in a school (versus a virtual one) or running a business or writing a book, or going “viral” or whatever, but more days than not I find my heart and soul to be very content doing what I was designed best to do: be Lincoln’s mom. Most days, I kinda rock at it. Not in a perfect, make-all-the-right-decisions way, but in that I recognize the weight of what I’m doing. It’s big. I don’t love it twenty four/ seven, but there are moments– many of them– when the joy just catches me by surprise and I thank God that this is where he put me, even though I was reluctant. There are some freaking hard days, but there are really great days too. And those hard days aren’t all bad, just hard. Getting to this place hasn’t been easy (actually, it was the worst summer and subsequent six months of my life adjusting) but it’s been so worth it, and my perspective on everything is so different. I could not be more grateful. (If you aren’t familiar with my postpartum depression/anxiety/eczema explosion story you can read it here and my thoughts on being “just a mom” here). 
Okay, enough about my experience and exploiting a friend’s beautiful photos to share my thoughts on the complexity of mommy societal expectations. Another day, another post… 

Not to quote the title of my blog but this girl and I? We are handpicked. Like, from day one God had us in mind to be friends. We met in 2013 when Marshall and I visited our first small group at The Summit. We bonded over photography, our love for chocolate pastries and Paris, coffee and kitchen aid mixers, like all in the first 10 minutes of meeting each other. The rest is history. We didn’t know it at the time, but we had lived in the same neighborhood, literally down the street from each other, and then they moved out to the country but were still within a reasonable driving distance from our house. This lady loves so selflessly. The way she serves her husband and family is admirable. She’s like me, into a little bit of everything. We love music, crafting, Jesus, leggings, coffee, photography, etc. Samesies. 
She and her husband worked their booties off the first year and some of Ben’s life to pay off their debt so she could be at home with him and pour all her time into her photography business. In December she celebrated her last day of her day job and is officially a full time mama and small business owner and I asked her if I could come over and document this sweet time and transition. It’s hard when you’re in it to see how sweet it is. These photos are just so special and remind me so much of me and my own sweet boy. There is something so magical, just so so so magical about those everyday things. Making coffee. Playing trains. Eating breakfast together. Reading books. Getting dressed. Diaper changes. Some days its so monotonous, but before you know it they’re reading their own books, feeding themselves and NOT throwing it on the floor (right? RIGHT?!), and using the potty (or so I’ve heard). It’s hard adjusting to the slow life and being on toddler time, especially when you’ve been going 1,000 miles an hour and accomplishing more things before the sun is up than some people do all day…. for most of your life. 
But this girl? She rocks it. She rocks being Ben’s mama. He’s the sweetest little kid in the whole world (even compared to my own) and loves to snuggle and show affection, and I just love it. Even to me. Gives me hugs every time he sees me. Every time! I just love him and could eat him up! Now that she’s more flexible during the day we get to see each other a lot (like once a week!) and it makes me so happy. It’s like a promise fulfilled on so many fronts. I was so lonely and lost and confused in those early baby days, and begged God for community. Every time we see each other is just such a big reminder of God’s faithfulness in his timing in the big things and in the small. Thank you for having me over (ahem– letting me invite myself over) Steph and Ben! It was such a joy to be part of your morning. 

debt, elevation, family, goals, handpicked, marriage, parenthood, personal, pregnancy

February Goal Type Things 2017


  • set up and start bullet journaling 
    • I have the most wonderful undated monthly/weekly/daily planner from Target that I discovered was a one time collaboration and it sent me spiraling into the depths of the internet to find a new one. I’m super duper not interested in paying more than $20 (even that’s more than I’d want to pay…) for something I will scribble on, spill coffee on and that potentially has features I do not need, care about or plan to use. Per the recommendation of my sweet friend Marie, I finally Googled some bullet journaling tutorials and that is TOTALLY how I already run my work flow/schedule– except I was using a pre-made undated planner. Amazing. I’m excited to try it, and am looking forward to having a central location for lists too. I have a running tab of lists in my phone and legal pads about and the idea of having them all in one place gets me so excited. I found a cheap-ish one on Amazon that will arrive tomorrow and now I just need a good black pen. Hit me with your favorites. 
  • start teaching round 2 of Financial Peace University
    • It’s starting February 19th! We’ve partnered with Elevation Raleigh to offer this course AGAIN with free childcare, coffee and no rush hour traffic. We will meet at Millbrook High School on Sundays during the 9:30 worship experience. The course runs for 9 weeks and you are free to come check it out without investing in the kit– it WILL change your life! Register here: https://fpu.com/1036068
  • go to Ikea (FINALLY YOU GUYS) 
    • I get paid on February 10th and we have quite an Ikea list. Several house projects are in the works and we are borrowing a mini-van and plan to fill ‘er up! Yippee! 
  • assemble king bed + move queen bed to the Big Boy Room + move crib into the Baby Girl Room! 
    • We’re playing musical beds! We’re getting a memory foam king bed (adulting, so much adulting) and our queen mattress is going in Lincoln’s room and his crib (now toddler bed) is getting moved into baby girl’s room. 
  • make a nesting to-do list and clean out, organize and start preparations for Baby Girl’s Room!
    • We’ve already gone through the clothes, downsized tremendously and have a ton of NB through 3mo stuff washed and ready, just need to get it in the room, put it all away and hang stuff on the walls. Post coming soon with inspiration for her room. EEEEEEP. 
  • complete Foto February Challenge
    • I came up with this photo challenge for the month just for funsies. I’ve only done one so far, and it’s really fun! And really challenging to let go of the pretty image ideal… jump in! There are no rules! 
  • finish reading Respect Dare
    • This book has been pivotal in this season of transition. We’re not quite newlyweds, we’re preparing to transition to two kids, we’ve been in our house for five years.. it’s an interesting place to be and this book has provided such a shift in perspective for me. It is cheesy at times and the lil’ feminist in me sometimes screams and wants to stop reading it, but I’m finding it important that I challenge my thinking on all front and see things from other perspectives.  I’m slated to finish it in the next two weeks (I’m a bit behind) and there are already quite a few “dares” that I haven’t really done full out and I’d like to do again. Perhaps this fall will be a good time to do that, I think! Regardless, I totally recommend it if you’re looking for some guidance in approaching marriage biblically. Men speak respect, women speak love and it’s a really great combination of these ideas with some practical tips, “dares” and reflections. A great “quiet time” piece and has sparked some wonderful conversations between Marshall and I. Highly recommend! 
  • maintain existing + continue developing good habits
    • I’ve upgraded my water bottle to a 1L and am drinking 2-3 liters a day. Want to keep that up! 
    • I’ve been getting up early to work in the mornings and it has been a game changer for my stress level! Finding such peace and joy working in the wee hours of 5 and 6am. I don’t even know who I am anymore…
    • I lowered my step goal to 6k a day, and some days it’s easy to hit and surpass, others not so much. Get back to walking every day and yoga 1x a week once I hit 30 weeks. 
  • enjoy at least one Lincoln + Mama day each week
    • I’m getting all nostalgic about only having ~13ish weeks left of this pregnancy, and the transition to 2 YEARS OLD hasn’t been too bad, but there are definitely a few more tantrums than there used to be. It’s getting more difficult to wrangle him in public when he decides to not obey, BUT– it’s worth it. We’ve been going to Marbles a lot, would like to maybe go to Pullen Park and ride the train one day, go get special donuts at Levant… and also, would like to document one of these with my big camera. 
baby boy, family, parenthood, personal

Our Everyday Photos: Fall 2016

This fall was crazy! And awesome and wonderful and magical and special and it FLEW by. I found out I was pregnant the end of August and I was down for the count for most of September and October. If I wasn’t puking, I was trying not to puke and if I wasn’t doing either of those things I was asleep. It was a bit of a blur, but thanks to some nausea meds and a really patient then-one year old and his awesome dad we still made a few special fall memories. This year we made a little fun fall to-do list with some of our favorite fall experiences. I hate the feeling of realizing you missed it, you know? Like when a season (literal or figurative) comes to an end and you realize you wasted a lot of it thinking you had a lot of time. Time goes by so fast now with kids (SO FAST), and I’ve found entering each season (literal) intentionally is really helpful for me, and when it’s over I can celebrate the fun we had and welcome to the new one, instead of having regrets and wishing I had had a plan.

Some fall highlights:

Lincoln started preschool two days a week; picking out pumpkins at the Farmer’s Market; having our own little family Thanksgiving just the three of us; having two ultrasounds and seeing little baby bean and later MUCH larger baby bean; Lincoln immediately referring to our ultrasound pictures as “baby”; going to the State Fair with my best friends; hot apple cider; impromptu Lion, Tiger + Bear family Halloween costume and Lincoln’s first trick or treating; surviving our first (and hopefully last) Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease situation; Marshall played bass at the NC State Fair with Elevation Worship; Second Annual Tacosgiving with my sister and her family; decorating for Christmas– just a few of my favorites!

family, food, handpicked, parenthood, personal, pregnancy

2017 GOALS | part one

I’m still working on the action steps, but I have my “whats” and “whys”. Realistically, I know a good chunk of this year is going to be about surviving. A new baby means sleep will be lacking, as will time to myself and my ability to have clear coherent thoughts most of the time. My goals this year are really “big picture”, I’ve have had some ‘action steps’ written down and just haven’t really gotten them rolling yet. I have a lot of little things to do to get ready for baby (including quite a bit of work to prepare considering I’ll have a newborn the last month or so of my spring and yearlong courses and no maternity leave).  The idea of coming up with strict goals for this year with strict action steps I would likely not follow through with was really stressful and overwhelming so instead, I’m just focusing on the big picture.

Our pastor encourages us to come up with a word for the year of what we want to define or describe what God will do in our life. Nothing really came to mind for me so I asked Marshall what his was. He chose abide from one of our new songs we sing at church Hallelujah, Here Below. It’s one of my favorites. I love the message and perspective. So much.

We are an altar of broken stones
But you delight in the offering
You have the heavens to call your home
But you abide in the song we sing
Ten thousand angels surround your throne
To bring you praise that will never cease
But hallelujah from here below
Is still your favorite melody
And should the fire that once burned bright
Become an ember my eyes can’t see
I will remember your sacrifice
I will abide in your love for me

Jesus Christ our king enthroned
all the praise is yours forevermore
Hallelujah, Here below
All the praise is yours, forevermore

Let this be me this year! In the hours of pain, labor and delivery, where time stands still.  In the fog and cloudiness of early postpartum days. In the  eternal, seemingly never ending weeks and months of sleep deprivation and healing in my body. In the moments of toddler tantrums and crying babies. In the heaps of laundry, piles of dishes, accumulating dirt and dog hair. In the unanswered emails, text messages and assignments ungraded. In the reality of something always left neglected, unfinished, incomplete and undone. Let me abide in your love for me, survive on your word, rely on your truths and believe the promises for my future. This is my big picture for 2017. 


2017: Abide 
2016: Thrive
2015: Simplify
2014: Goals
So here’s my big picture. I wasn’t sure how to categorize them this year. It’s a combo of what worked, what didn’t work, what I want to make time for and actions I guess for abiding.

Maintain. 
  • Diet. 
  • Routines.
  • Personal photo taking and organization. Digital workflow with Lightroom and uploading to personal Smugmug. 
Improve.
  • Time management at home. 
  • Adhere to chore/housework rotation to do a little bit daily, so I don’t feel overwhelmed when it all starts to pile up. 
  • Finish work during the day. / Improve workflow to be more efficient. 
  • Online storage of RAW files.
  • iPhone photos. Take less, delete more, keep fewer. 
Enjoy.
  • Family time! 2+ a week, finish work before Marshall gets home so we can unwind, cook dinner, and play with Lincoln before bedtime and have QT after bedtime (aka play Monopoly Deal) 
  • Baby books! Yes, plural. I still haven’t finished Lincoln’s. Finish Lincoln’s, prepare baby girl’s so once she’s here all I have to do is write stuff down and print photos. 
  • Print pictures for our photo wall from 2016 and 2017. 
  • Order/finish my 2016 Chatbook (I currently have a ticket open with them, I have three stubborn photos that won’t go into my book….).  
  • Read for fun (post forthcoming with books for the year!) 
  • Take care of myself. 6k step goal daily, water daily, vegetables + vitamins daily. Smoothies 2x a week, broth 2x a week. relaxing baths 2x a week. 
  • Enjoy newborn days. No visitors first two weeks (sorry, but also not sorry!). Sleep, recover, nurse and savor! 
  • Make seasonal goals/bucket lists for quality family time. 
Abide. 
  • Read and study the Bible frequently. 
  • Listen to uplifting, encouraging podcasts.
  • Pray frequently.
Happy New Year!